If your neighbor is about to get arrested for being a pedophile and polluting the neighborhood by burning toxic waste in his backyard, it seems like a no-brainer to remove the offending person.
But what if their distant cousin from across town moves in to save them from being arrested and evicted by persuading authorities they will serve as a careful guardian and custodian? Now imagine the courts and law enforcement allow that creep to stay, but he just goes right on pillaging the neighborhood kids.
That pretty much sums up Bashar al-Assad in Syria and his Iranian benefactors.
But now the United States blamed the Syrian government and its patrons, Russia and Iran, on Tuesday for one of the deadliest chemical weapons attacks in years in Syria, one that killed dozens of people in Idlib Province, including children, and sickened scores more, according to the New York Times.
A senior State Department official said the attack appeared to be a war crime and called on Russia and Iran to restrain the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria from carrying out further chemical strikes.
Britain, France and Turkey joined Washington in condemning the attack, which they also attributed to Assad’s government. The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to be briefed on the attack on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the White House called the attack a “reprehensible” act against innocent people “that cannot be ignored by the civilized world.”
The State Department official who briefed reporters on Tuesday, also said that it appeared Russia was unable or unwilling to hold the Syrian government to the agreed cease-fire.
He reiterated that the attack on civilians appeared to be a war crime. The official, who could not be identified under the State Department’s protocol for briefing reporters, also asserted that even before the alleged chemical strike, the Trump administration had shelved the idea of cooperating militarily with the Assad government against the Islamic State.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group, said 58 people were killed in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Idlib province, including 11 children. The death toll is likely to rise, the group said.
Turkey said it dispatched 30 ambulances to Idlib following chlorine gas attacks in the northwestern province, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported. Syrian opposition health minister Firas Jundi put the death toll at more than 100 civilians and said 500 others, mostly children, were sickened or burned by the gas.
“I believe this horrible memory will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Jundi told CNN.
The Syrian anti-government activist group Idlib Media Center published photos of young children receiving medical treatment, and a video showed what appeared to be bodies of children lined up on a blanket.
On Tuesday, Tillerson released a statement condemning the attack, one that took aim at Russia and Iran.
“There are reports of dozens dead, including many children. While we continue to monitor the terrible situation, it is clear that this is how Bashar al-Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism,” the statement said. It also called on the countries to act. “As the self-proclaimed guarantors to the cease-fire negotiated in Astana, Russia and Iran also bear great moral responsibility for these deaths.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called the attack “further evidence of the barbarity suffered by the Syrian people.” British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said he was “horrified” by the attack that “bears all the hallmarks” of chemical weapons previously used by the Syrian regime. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attack “inhuman” and “unacceptable.”
Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the largest Iranian resistance group, pointed blame at Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps for protecting and enabling the Assad regime with fighters, arms, cash and equipment.
“Persistence of the war crimes in Syria with the growing involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its affiliated militia clearly shows that as long as the Iranian regime is not evicted and its IRGC not expelled from Syria, and so long as their puppet government is in power in Damascus, peace, tranquility and even a ceasefire could not be upheld in that country and the region,” she said.
The attack appeared to be the largest and deadliest chemical attack in Syria since August 2013, when more than 1,000 people were killed in the Damascus suburbs by the banned toxin sarin. Under threat of United States retaliation, Assad agreed to a Russian-American deal to eliminate his country’s chemical weapons program, which until that time it had denied having, and to join an international treaty banning chemical weapons.
With this week’s attack, it clearly shows that guarantees on chemical weapons being banned in Syria are pretty much worthless.